Friday Flash 10/29/21

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Reminders/Updates for Our Tourism Partners

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  • Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 16 CVBs, the Montana Tourism Advisory Council and specific industry stakeholders. The calls are held on the fourth Wednesday, every other month from 10:00-11:00 a.m. For assistance or information regarding this call, please contact Barb Sanem or call her at 406.841.2769. 
    • December 1, 2021
    • January 26, 2022
    • March 23, 2022
    • May 25, 2022
    • July 27, 2022
    • September 28, 2022
    • November 23, 2022
  • November 9 & 10, 2021 (9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. both days)Glacier Country Tourism Summit: Business Insights for Reaching New Heights—Join Glacier Country Tourism, Western Montana's official destination marketing and management organization (DMO), Destination Analysts, Tread Lightly!, Tourism Diversity Matters, Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, Job Service Missoula, ABMJ Consulting and Janna Lundquist Consulting for a meeting of the minds.

    Discussion will include travel and tourism trends, diversity, equity and inclusion, responsible motorized recreation messaging, building on your social media, and workforce development and training.

    Come learn how to take advantage of Glacier Country Tourism’s marketing assets to grow and support your business. Our tourism and marketing experts can help you market your business or organization to travelers. There's strength in numbers, after all. For more information or to register, click here
  • January 20, 2022Region/CVB 2nd Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due
  • February 7, 2022—TAC Meeting 
  • April 20, 2022—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due
  • June 14-15, 2022—TAC Meeting
  • July 20, 2022—Region/CVB 4th Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due

Tourism Grant Program

2022 Tourism Grant Update

The FY22 Tourism Grant application submissions are currently being evaluated. We anticipate an announcement of the tourism grant awards for this cycle in late November. We encourage you to subscribe to receive email updates from the Department of Commerce for other and future funding opportunities by clicking here. For more information about the Tourism Grant Program, please visit our website at MARKETMT.COM

Made in Montana

2022 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

The Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts is scheduled for March 11-12, 2022 in Helena at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. 

Montana Film Office

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FY22 Big Sky Film Grant

The Montana Film Office is excited to announce that the Fiscal Year 2022 Big Sky Film Grant (BSFG) is open for submissions and will be awarding $1.5 million dollars in grant funds to selected productions — AND we’ve extended our deadline to November 29, 2021, midnight, MST.

Grant applications are being accepted in 3 categories: Feature Film & TV, Resident Filmmaker, and Short-Form Content. Visit our BSFG webpage HERE for more details on categories and program details. Before applying, please read the program’s Instructions & Guidelines HERE.  

To be considered for the FY22 BSFG round, please apply by November 29, 2021 – 12:00 am, MST.

Applications are accepted via Submittable platform and found on our website HERE.

The BSFG program builds and supports partnerships with filmmakers and production companies with the intention to create Montana film industry jobs. The grant program enhances the marketing efforts of Montana’s tourism regions and advocates for the state’s people, history, and overall quality of life. The BSFG and the Montana Film Office are funded by the 4% Lodging Facility Use Tax - commonly known as the “Bed Tax.”


Tribal News

Montana Graduate Student Works to Preserve Salish Language

More than 200 Indigenous languages in the United States have gone extinct in the last 400 years, according to the Language Conservancy.

Aspen Decker, a University of Montana graduate student in linguistics from Arlee, Mont., wants to ensure the Salish language doesn't experience a similar fate.

"I want to make sure that I've increased the amount of speakers in my community because my children and myself, you know, we're not going to have very many language speakers to talk to," Decker told the Missoulian.

"We're going to need to grow this community of speakers in order to really preserve the language and make sure that it's healthy and thriving."

Only 13 elders can still speak Salish fluently, Decker said. She and her four children are now among the first generation of bilingual speakers of her community in nearly 75 years.

But Decker's work goes beyond being a student. She was recently hired as the Native community and museum education coordinator of the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, where she is developing signage for the new museum that will be translated into Salish.

She's also in the process of launching a new student organization called the Indigenous Storytelling Club with the goal of creating greater representation of Indigenous ways of knowing on campus. Read more from Northwest Arkansas Online here

Montana in the News Tourism Partner Shout-Outs, Recognition and News


MontanaAirports Across Montana See Record Traveler Numbers—Montana airports have seen a steady stream of take-offs and landings, as tourism and travel are reaching new heights.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport just broke its 2019 record of 1.6 million travelers. “We’ll probably come in at the end of the year somewhere between 1.9 and 2 million passengers for the year,” airport director Brian Sprenger said.

It's not just Bozeman seeing a record number of travelers. Officials say records are also being broken at Glacier Park International Airport. “We had 356,000 enplanements in 2019,” GPIA director Rob Ratkowski said. “That was a record year by a wide margin, so for 2021, we are beating those 2019 numbers by, like, 18%.” Read more from NBC Montana here

Gallatin ValleyGallatin Valley Tourism District Budget Tops $1.2 Million—The Gallatin Valley tourism business improvement district’s $1.2 million budget was approved this week, with the money going toward boosting business during the slower winter months.

The Gallatin County Commission unanimously approved the budget for the tourism district, which comprises Bozeman, Three Forks and Belgrade. The money, however, does not come from taxpayers. Instead, the budget is funded entirely by a fee that 37 hotels within the district pay.

Daryl Schliem, district chair and CEO of the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce, said that hotels do not have to be a part of the tourism district. The fee attached to membership is “self-imposed.”

Schliem said that the money is used to help businesses get more opportunities during the slower “shoulder seasons” during the fall and winter. “The main purpose of the fund is basically to — what we call ‘put heads in bed’ — fill our hotel rooms,” Schliem said.

The tourism district has been around for 12 years, and was originally run by the city of Bozeman. In 2019, the county took over and expanded the district to Three Forks and Belgrade. In order to renew the district two years ago, about 61% of the hotels that would be a part of it needed to approve of the fee. Read more from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle here

Great FallsGreat Falls Businesses Ready for US-Canada Border Re-opening—Great Falls hotels are starting to see more traffic and business, but that’s about to change in the coming weeks with the US-Canada border opening back up, meaning even more business for Great Falls hotels and more cars in their parking lots.

There are many reasons people come to Great Falls and stay in hotels, and soon, more people will be able to do so once the border officially opens again, allowing more tourism into the city and bringing more people into hotel rooms.

Parking lots are mostly without Alberta and other Canada license plates, but that is expected to change once the border opens.

Days Inn hotel owner Scott Shull says the last 18 months have been devastating for his hotel. He says 15 to 20 percent of his business comes from Canada, and that the border opening again will not only help him, but a lot of hotels and businesses in Great Falls. Read more from KRTV here


ITRR Survey Request

Montana tourism-related business owners and managers are asked to fill out a quick survey from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation (ITRR). This is a short survey that should take you 5-7 minutes to complete. Answers to this survey will be confidential, and all results will be presented in the aggregate.

The intent is to reach out to business, non-profit, and agency owners, managers, directors, and others with key insights to their entity’s operations. We are interested in hearing from you regarding the last year and looking into 2022. Whether your business is doing well, struggling, or had to close, your insights are valuable to us in helping to understand the tourism and recreation economy in Montana.

The results, along with other new tourism information, will be presented by Jeremy Sage, the ITRR Interim Director, at the Outlook Seminars with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research in early 2022 and published on the ITRR website at

Thank you for your time. If you have any questions concerning this project, please call the ITRR office at 406.243.5686.

Other News

A Year After Pandemic, Visits to US National Parks Boom

A boom in visits to America's national parks continues, with Grand Teton National Park joining nearby Yellowstone in having its busiest year on record.

Just nine months into 2021, the park in northwestern Wyoming has already surpassed its previous full-year record for visitors set in 2018. Between January and September, Grand Teton hosted 3,493,937 recreational visitors, topping the 2018 record by 2,786, park officials said in a statement Wednesday.

The explosion in visitors to the park known for its jagged snow-capped mountains follows a decline in tourism last year blamed on the coronavirus pandemic.

Visitors are seeing the park at different times of the year. More are visiting during March, April and May, park officials said. Summertime remains hectic, though, with this past July the busiest in park history.

The increased tourism has meant more traffic, and trail use is up 29% from 2019 and 49% from 2016. Read more from Montana Right Now here

Montana’s Tourism Industry Rebounds Through the Pandemic

Montana’s tourism industry is now through its second summer under the cloud of COVID-19. Despite the challenges presented in 2020, including stay-at-home orders, closed borders, businesses and schools, Montana’s abundance of open space and outdoor activities drew millions of travelers. In fact, some locales were overwhelmed with the number of visitors, which stretched the capacity of campgrounds, public lands and some businesses as they operated with limited staffing, hours and customer capacity. It made for challenges that some were eager to face, as it meant a return of business, while others were dismayed with the crowds.

2020 estimates from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR) indicate that 11.13 million travelers came to the Montana during the year, down 12% from 2019. Half of those travelers (5.6 million or 51%) came during the third quarter (July-September). Despite the interruptions to business as usual, nonresident travelers spent $3.14 billion in Montana in 2020. While still a 16.5% decrease from 2019, the drop was less bleak than anticipated.

Travel spending by out-of-staters directly supported $2.60 billion in economic activity in the state, with a combined industry output of $4.4 billion. Directly supported were 30,750 jobs and $776 million in employee compensation, and a contribution of $212.7 million in state and local taxes. Read more from Montana Business Quarterly here

Funding Resources

Montana Main Street Planning and Project Grant Now Open!

The application cycle for the Montana Main Street Planning and Project Grant is now open for Montana Main Street member communities. The deadline to apply is December 9, 2021.

Grants are available for Montana Main Street member communities for comprehensive revitalization projects; this includes planning activities like a downtown master plan and project activities like seed money to implement a façade improvement program.

The Montana Main Street Planning and Project Grant application and further information on the program can be found here

If Montana Main Street member communities have questions about potential projects, please contact the Community Development Division at 406.841.2770 or

WHIP Grant Application Period Open

The annual application period is open for the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP), a grant funding program administered by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The purpose of WHIP is to accomplish large-scale restoration of private and publicly owned high priority wildlife habitats through noxious weed management.

Grant expenditures are limited to herbicide, mechanical, biocontrol and re-seeding treatments, specifically to restore wildlife habitat functions. Grazing management improvements may also be funded through the program to restore native wildlife habitats and reduce susceptibility to noxious weed invasion.

The WHIP webpage includes links to specific instructions for using AmpliFund for WHIP grants (How to Apply for a WHIP grant in AmpliFund) and to the application.

WHIP applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on November 23, 2021 to be considered for funding in 2022. If you have questions about applying for a WHIP grant or accessing the application forms, contact Kim Antonick, WHIP coordinator, at or 406.444.7291.

Other Events/Dates to Note

November 4, 2021—The Value of DMO Visitor Guides Webinar—12:00 p.m. MST—Join Destination Analysts for a webinar on the value of DMO visitor guides. In our digital world, printed visitor guides - particularly those published by DMOs - continue to be an important resource for travel inspiration and planning. During this webinar, Destination Analysts will present the findings of the recent DMA West Education & Research Foundation’s Visitor Guide Readership & Conversion Study. The study was conducted for the DMA West Foundation by Destination Analysts with support from Miles Partnership. In addition to the research, impact and influence of visitor guides, insights from this cooperative study of 12 DMOs will cover who uses official DMO visitor guides and why, the specific content they seek, and how this marketing asset is essential to DMO communications. To register for the webinar, click here

American Trails Presents Advancing Trails Webinar Series—American Trails brings agencies, trailbuilders, advocates, and volunteers the latest in state-of-the-art information on all aspects of trails and greenways. Our webinars focus on a variety of trail topics, usually applicable to all trail types, with expert presenters. Webinar topics are chosen from current cutting-edge trail topics selected from attendee/presenter suggestions as well as recent popular conference sessions.

For more information, visit or click on individual webinar links below. 

Upcoming webinars:

November 9, 2021—Recreation Economy Release—8:00 a.m. MST (virtual via Zoom)—Join Recreation Roundtable for the release of new 2020 government economic data showing the size and impact of the outdoor recreation industry!

This is the fourth consecutive year that the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis will release information on outdoor recreation's economic impact and how our industry grows jobs and supports the economy at state and national levels. 

To register for the event, click here